Jeep could extend its product reach to include a new mini SUV that would serve as the range opener for the brand, slotting in beneath the existing Renegade small SUV and primarily aimed at European buyers.
Industry journal Automotive News Europe believes the new model would share its underpinnings with the Fiat Panda and 500 microcars, with the finished product likely to have a sub 4.0 metre overall length.
A production line shuffle would see the next-generation Panda moved from its current Italian factory to be produced alongside the 500 in Poland, freeing up the Pomigliano factory near Naples for Jeep’s use.
“If I look at European markets and other international markets, you can see that a smaller vehicle is developing and that is something we are looking very closely at right now,” Manley told reporters in Detroit.
While Jeep already has two SUVs under Australia’s small SUV classification with the Renegade (above) and slightly larger Compass, a new more compact model could potentially start the range off with an entry price closer to the $20,000 mark, allowing Jeep to compete with low price small SUV’s like the base model Mazda CX-3 as well as vying for market share with traditional small hatches.
By using the Panda’s underpinnings Jeep would also be able to offer both front wheel drive and all wheel drive versions of the new crossover, allowing top-spec models to retain some degree of off road ability, in line with the brand’s adventure-ready ethos.
Jeep parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is scheduled to unveil a five-year future strategic plan in June which may include the first confirmation of any new model lines slated for Jeep along with plans for the Chrysler, and Dodge brands.
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